“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” said Thunberg. She made headlines in August 2018 when she skipped school to hold a “School Climate Strike” in the streets of Sweden. Now, she is leading rallies and speaking in Congress to directly address world leaders about the actions they must take in order to revert the effects of climate change that people are deliberately ignoring.
“You come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. People are suffering, people are dying,” said Greta.
“We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Greta’s speech became the hot topic of social media and different headlines worldwide. She is everywhere right now—with the global strike that happened last week, suing five countries for being the biggest carbon polluters in the world together with 15 other children, visiting the Senate to demand actions for our dying planet, and following her UN speech, another climate strike happening this Friday.
This young girl with Asperger’s syndrome, and barely half the age of any world leader and politician, is telling Congress to “do better” at their jobs with the kind of firm-handed clarity to intimidate even the strongest of authorities. She’s nominated for a Nobel peace prize, fist-bumped with Barack Obama, and has been the catalyst for one of the most earth-shaking climate revolutions to date. She’s young, female, outspoken, and the face of a new era that’s uninterested in “eternal economic growth.”
Which is why the haters have decided to come out of their caves. Surprise! They’re mostly men.
Arron Banks, Co-Founder of the Leave Campaign took to Twitter to mock the teenage activist.
He then replied to someone who was outraged by the tweet: “I suppose you approve of vulnerable children being abused & paraded for political purposes.”
Banks is among the most prominent funders of Brexit, with long-standing ties to the UK Independence Party and its former leader Nigel Farage. United Kingdom Independence Party’s politician, Neil Hamilton, was one of the first to be called out for posting what was perceived by many as a tweet intended to bully Thunberg.
It's shaping up to be the hottest day of the year – please remember:
❌ No electric fans ❌ DEFINITELY no air conditioning
Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute, an organization that prides itself in Big Oil funding and possesses a long history of promoting climate science denial, published a long blog post by one of its ‘policy experts’, Gregory Wrightstone, who attempted to refute many of Thunberg’s arguments for climate action. “It is time for her to go back to school to learn what she doesn’t know and to unlearn so much of what she has been taught,” he concluded.
According to Teen Vogue, many other critics of Greta in the US are tied to another of Heartland’s funders: the Koch family, owners of the U.S.’s largest private energy company. However, some are just plain old rightists and massive Trump supporters.
Media analyst and YouTuber Mark Dice led an online trolling spree after Greta’s emotional UN speech saying, “This brat Greta Thunberg makes me want to start dumping my trash in the ocean.”
This Mark guy seems to believe that the science of climate change is merely “environmental eugenics.” The supportive replies to his trolling tweets were downright appalling and almost funny. If the world wasn’t currently burning and if animals weren’t going extinct, a good laugh at those men who call Greta a “climate actress” and are accusing her of being a Nazi apologist would be fun. But the world is burning, and different species are dying. Nature is now fighting a war that humans started, and all these men can think of doing is mock a child simply because they don’t want to be told what to do.
What is also alarming is that some of Thunberg’s detractors on social media say she is “mentally unstable,” ”fragile,” and is being “used by others.” This taps into the dangerous stereotype: that people with her condition are incapable of being autonomous individuals.
For these petty and sorry excuses for men—especially those in authority—it must be hard to be told by a 16-year-old that they have failed at their job. But that’s kind of her point. She wants them to be nervous. Greta told political leaders and billionaire entrepreneurs in Davos: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
As the climate crisis worsens, Thunberg is educating our world leaders. One of her greatest rivals is President Trump, a man she refuses to meet with because she believes it will be a “waste.”
Greta is now facing hundreds and thousands of threats and online bullying, more so after her speech at the UN. Why is this so? Because her resolve remains strong and her fight is ever-persistent as she addresses leaders and big corporations all over the world to fight for humanity and stop climate change before it is too late. People are responding irrationally because of what she represents. In an age where democracy is under assault, she hints at the emergence of a new kind of power–a convergence of youth, popular protest, and irrefutable science. And for her loudest haters, she represents strength and courage that they will never have.